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How significant was the Night of the Long Knives in enabling Hitler to consolidate his power between 1933 and 1939?

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GCSE HISTORY COURSEWORK How significant was the 'Night of the Long Knives' in enabling Hitler to consolidate his power between 1933 and 1939? When Hitler became Chancellor on 30 January 1933, many problems stood in front of his ambition to assume total power. Firstly, he relied on his coalition allies. In the beginning, Hitler headed a coalition government in which only three of the twelve Cabinet ministers were Nazis (Hitler, Goering and Frick). This number had to be raised if the Nazis were to govern on their own. The president was another problem. As head of state, he had the ability to sack Hitler if he didn't agree with what he was doing. The Army was another difficulty. They were armed so could take over if they felt they needed to. Hitler also found the other elite groups such as conservative politicians, civil servants, Junkers, 'big business' etc. to be problems because their help was needed to run the country. Hitler also had to dismantle democracy quickly, otherwise the public might continue to abandon the Nazis in elections and Hitler's plans would be ruined from the start. Trade unions had to be kept under control to avoid the kind of general strike that defeated the Kapp Putsch (1920). The media and Churches were also a big threat to Hitler's power as they shaped public views. Hitler knew he had to control or come to an agreement with them. ...read more.


The 'Night of the Long Knives' was of vital importance in Hitler's rise to total power, for several reasons. First, Hitler relieved himself of a key rival for Party leadership, by whom he felt threatened. Other Nazi 'barons' such as Goering, Goebbels and Himmler (whom Hitler encouraged to compete for senior positions) led Hitler to believe (via a dossier compiled by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Sicherheitsdienst) that Roehm had been paid 12m Reichmarks by the French to overthrow Hitler. Although Hitler refused to believe this at first, he also wanted Roehm removed for his own reasons: he realised the SA was a threat because Roehm wanted a 'second revolution', and was threatening to achieve it either with or without Hitler. Second, the SA had now become unnecessary. They were created in the 1920s to battle the Communists on the streets. However, the Communists were no longer a threat, and Hitler could now rely on the police to support him. As well as being unnecessary, the SA were also an embarrassment. Here was the main significance of the purge: the step was necessary for Hitler to cement the support of the groups mentioned earlier. For example, Roehm wanted the 2.5-million-strong 'brown flood' to submerge the 100,000-strong 'grey rock' (i.e. he wanted the SA to absorb the Army). The generals saw this merger as a threat to their own positions, which was a clear concern to Hitler. ...read more.


First, Hitler controlled the ordinary police force, which prevented opposition on the streets. Second, the Gestapo was set up by Goering as a secret state police, to constantly hunt out opposition, either open or secret, to the Nazi regime and arrest them. During the Second World War there were 45,000 members. Third, the SS (originally set up by Hitler as his personal bodyguards) were put in charge of the concentration camps, which were set up in order to concentrate Hitler's enemies (initially communists, socialists and trade unionists) in one place, behind barbed wire, and even to murder them. This enabled Hitler to root out and eliminate all opposition to his rule. In conclusion, it is important to see that the different factors were related to each other, like links in a chain. For example, during the 'Night of the Long Knives', Hitler used his 'Reichstag Fire Decree' powers to arrest the SA leadership; the SS, the main component of the 'police state', were the instrument he used to make the arrests and to carry out the killings; afterwards, he used the 'Enabling Law' to make these killings legal. And there would have been huge outcry had Hitler not used 'Gleichschaltung' to keep public opinion and 'Terror and the Nazi Police State' to arrest anyone who did oppose him. All these factors are therefore arguably equally important in giving Hitler total power as judge, jury and executioner. WORD COUNT: 1,809 ?? ?? ?? ?? GCSE History Coursework 1 The 'Night of the Long Knives' ...read more.

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